It looks like Google is in the hot seat this time as Android users are suing the search giant for location tracking issues. Earlier this week, Steve Jobs addressed an iOS user’s threat to switch to a Droid, claiming that it won’t track his or her location. Jobs’ response? “Oh yes they do.” And it turns out, Android users believe they are being tracked and are now taking Google to court.
The two residents of Oakland County in Michigan said in a complaint filed April 27 in federal court in Detroit that their HTC Inspire 4G phones, which use Google’s Android Operating System, track their whereabouts “just as if by a tracking device for which a court-ordered warrant would ordinarily be required.”
The plaintiffs seek to represent other Android phone users in a class-action lawsuit, as well as at least $50 million in damages and a court order requiring Google to stop tracking its products’ users.
If the plaintiffs are able to prove that Google is tracking Android users in a manner that would normally require a warrant issued by a judge, it could be a huge blow for Android and the way it and some of its applications operate. Determining and gathering location data is sometimes useful for location-based services and apps. If Google is exploiting that by tracking users, things might get a little more tricky when it comes to gathering Android users’ location data.
Meanwhile, Apple went into great detail about how they don’t track users – in reality, it does track users and stores their info in unencrypted files on their phones or computers – but no one seems to believe the company. Hell, even South Park decided to poke fun at the issue.
Privacy just might be one of the things we’ll have to give up if we want to continue enjoying the applications and services that these platforms have to offer. Some folks don’t even seem to mind broadcasting their whereabouts and sharing it on Twitter or Facebook via apps like Foursquare and Gowalla. The only difference is that they’re volunteering that information, where the paranoid folks being tracked allege that opting out was never an option.
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